TRT vs Steroids

You read about it daily, a new athlete has been busted for Steroid use. Does that mean your medical TRT dosage is also "gear"? Let's discuss TRT vs Steroids.

Ah yes. You met the big bald guy in the gym and he told you he’s also on “TRT bro” but he is about as jacked as Arnold, as aggressive as a Karen, and his back is covered with pimples, resembling a teenagers face… Something is up.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy and Steroids are often grouped together, and this is actully a hanous thing to do. Comparing the treatment for low Testosterone levels to performance enhancing drugs is just wrong.

While most bodybuilders do eventually go on TRT, this is because they had to – they messed their Testosterone levels up.

Now that you’re on TRT, are you also on Steroids? Are you going to get roid rage? Is your preffered pronoun “bro” now?!

Chill, bro, I’ve got the answers – well, most of them regarding TRT vs Steroids.

Key Takeaways

  • Unlike Steroid abusers, TRT users are not breaking the law
  • Testosterone replacement therapy is a healthy medical treatment regulated by medical professionals
  • Steroid use is a personal decision that could have severe side effects
  • Low T can be fixed by Testosterone replacement therapy, whereas Steroid abuse could lead to Low T

What is Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT)?

As men age, we see a reduction of certain hormones, such as Testosterone and Growth Hormone [1]. In fact, it is estimated that more than 25% of the adult men in the States suffer from Hypogonadism, a term used to describe a male suffering from low Testosterone.

TRT vs Steroids
Figure 1: TRT is simply a medical treatment to replace your endogenous (missing) Testosterone

There could be various reasons as to why this happens such as age, taking Anabolic Steroids, or even damage to your gonads. Low Testosterone could have a severe impact on your quality of life, and as such, medical treatments have evolved to help men who suffer from hypogonadism.

Because the symptoms of low Testosterone could be hard to pinpoint, medical professionals would have to do blood testing before beginning treatment. Once your Testosterone is identified as “low”, you will start Testosterone medications.

You will simply use exogenous Testosterone (only pure Testosterone) to get your hormone levels to the normal range. That’s it. You might use other products like hCG to help you maintain fertility, but there is nothing about Testosterone treatment that is remotely close to what Steroid abusers do.

What are Anabolic Steroids?

Anabolic Steroids can be described as synthetic Androgens that consist of Testosterone, Progesterone, and Estrogen. Mostly these are going to be Testosterone (Not an Anabolic Steroid, but just a Steroid), and derivates of Testosterone.

Steroids were created to treat medical patients who were suffering from muscle-wasting diseases such as HIV/AIDS. They were engineered to have as few side effects as possible, but still have quite a few side effects such as suppressing Testosterone levels, hair loss, and prostate cancer [2].

Figure 2: One of the most famous Steroid use busts in professional sports was at the 1988 Seoul Olympics when sprinter Ben Johnson was found to use the Anabolic Steroid Stanozolol.

Steroids have come down from their medical usage and have been used to give athletes and lifters a competitive edge when it comes to promoting the growth of muscle mass. It can also increase strength and recovery rates. Synthetic Steroids have been used as PEDs in sports since the early 1900s.

The differences between TRT vs Steroids

The big question we need to discuss is the differences between TRT vs Steroids. The differences between these could not be more dire, and there are vastly different health risks involved.

Best ForTRT is best for men suffering
from low Testosterone
Steroids should only be used
by those who are willing
to break the law for better
Legality100% legal if you do it with a
medical professional
100% illegal
Biggest ConcernSome insurance companies do
not cover TRT
The sheer amount of sides are
vast and you can also end up
in jail. Plus, Steroids are made
by underground labs, not
Where to Get itFrom a TRT Clinic or your GPUnderground illegal supplier
Estimated dosage100 – 200mg per week1000 – 5000mg per week

TRT is simply replacing your own Testosterone with an exogenous source by a medical professional. This is as simple as replacing the tires on your car. That’s it. Your tires have run their course, and as with every other “car” on the market, they will eventually no longer work. This is a legal and sometimes necessary procedure and is done for the purpose of making you normal, not to improve athletic performance.

Sticking with the car analogy, Steroids are like putting a V8 in your car, plus a body kit, plus NOS, and then slicks for tires… This gives you a massive advantage over other people as your physical performance will be way better. Oh, Steroids are also illegal. Steroid abuse is an illegal practice and will lead to severe health conditions if pushed too far.

Side Effects of TRT vs Steroid(s)

The key differences between the two are that TRT is managed by professionals, Steroids are way (way) worse for you, and Steroids are also illegal. Most of the side effects associated with TRT are very small and easily maneagable.

Side Effects of TRTSide Effecs of Steroids
TRT users can have Estrogen issues if left untreatedCan lead to sleep apnea
TRT users can suffer from some injection painIllegal Steroid use could land you in jail
If the TRT dosage is calculated wrong, you might have some increased libido, but that’s about itPushing Testosterone past the supra physiological range will definitely lead to Estrogen issues
At high doses, Steroids can lead to liver damage as well as kidney health implications
Will lead to hair loss, prostate growth, high blood pressure, and Testosterone shutdown
Will lead to some infertility

Benefits of TRT vs Steroid(s)

The greatest benefit that TRT has over Steroids is that is a medical treatment that you undergo with a medical professional like a doctor or HRT clinic. You can also make use of a TRT clinic that specializes in Testosterone replacement therapy. Most clinics even offer a free consultation. TRT is als generally safe whereas Steroids are not.

Steroids are performance enhancing drugs, so, if you are keen on breaking the law to significantly improve your muscle building capabilities, go ahead.

TRT and Steroids Dosing

Steroid dosing will depend on the person in question, as Steroid use isn’t an exact science. It is literally more of a “I’m guessing I need this amount of Anabolic Androgenic Steroids, let’s see what happens”.

TRT on the other hand will look at your medical history, your current Testosterone levels, and how much of the naturally produced Testosterone converts into Free Testosterone before deciding on a dose. They will want to keep you in the normal range of 300 ng/dl – 1000 ng/dl.

They will also sometimes make use of “Testosterone supplements”, which aren’t really supplements at all. Things like hCG and Clomid could help improve the quality of life even further, and preserve fertility [3]. These will all be calculated by a qualified physician.

TRT for Muscle Mass

It will come as no surprise that Testosterone (in any shape or amount) could promote the growth of muscle tissue. That said, is there a “certain” threshold that is needed? Not exactly.

Men produce around 49 – 70mg of Testosterone per week, Women produce anything between 1.0 – 25mg per week [4]. This is a remarkable difference and it is very noticeable that women are not nearly as muscular as men.

Thus, any amount of TRT will help you build muscle mass. That said, you will not build as much as those who use Anabolic Androgenic Steroids. Usually, TRT is limited to 100 – 200mg per week, and for reference, most pro bodybuilders use upwards of 3000mg of Anabolic Steroids per week. TRT vs Steroids for muscle mass… Yeah, Steroids win.

You can still make sure you train hard, ear correct, and get plenty of sleep. Not only will this give you more energy, but it might help promote growth as well.

While Steroids are illegal, there are plenty of “research chemicals” that can be purchased online, such as SARMs and Peptides. These are not illegal, but cannot be sold as supplements. They will also help increase muscle mass but not as much as Steroids. That said, they can also have other benefits like increased bone density and lowering body fat, and probably won’t give you the typical “roid rage”.

100% absolutely TRT is legal, provided you do it with medical oversight – such as PeterMD or FountainTRT. You will be using pharma-grade Testosterone that does not contain other substances or other chemicals, thus enabling your hormone levels to return to normal – legally.

Is TRT (Testosterone Therapy) Safe?

TRT is a medical treatment that often falls under the watchful eye of those that misunderstand legal TRT and illegal Steroids. Steroids have awful side effects and are not safe, however, Testosterone replacement therapy is really safe.

The main concerns fall with higher doses – which you won’t be able to take – and cardiovascular implications such as cholesterol and hypertension.

Some studies indicate that TRT could actually improve cholesterol levels [5] and other studies show that low Testosterone cause low Estrogen [6] which can lead to an increase in blood pressure which could be solved by accurately dosed TRT.

That pretty much sums it up. Testosterone replacement therapy is a very common and legal practice that won’t result in aggressive behavior or health implications from Steroidal hormones.

Testosterone replacement therapy simply aims to get you back to normal levels of Testosterone. This means you will simply fix your low T levels and won’t be pushed past what is considered normal.

Testosterone replacement therapy TRT can change your life for the good, and has helped millions get their lives back on track. TRT vs Steroids is not a comparison that should be made too often.

Will TRT get me ripped?

Unlikely. Low Testosterone can cause fat gain, but ultimiately it will be your diet and training that determines body composition.

How fast do you feel TRT?

Depending on the means of administration, you could feel it within the first two weeks of your initial Testosterone replacement therapy dosing.

What happens after the first TRT injection?

Your body will return to normal in regards to hormones such as Testosterone and Estrogen. You might also see an increase in sex drive, cardiovascular health, and overal energy levels.

Is TRT healthy long term?

As long as you work with a qualified physician to have medical oversight, TRT would be healthy long term, yes.

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1) Surampudi PN, Wang C, Swerdloff R. Hypogonadism in the aging male diagnosis, potential benefits, and risks of testosterone replacement therapy. Int J Endocrinol. 2012;2012:625434. doi: 10.1155/2012/625434. Epub 2012 Mar 14. PMID: 22505891; PMCID: PMC3312212.

2) Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA. Medical issues associated with anabolic steroid use: are they exaggerated? J Sports Sci Med. 2006 Jun 1;5(2):182-93. PMID: 24259990; PMCID: PMC3827559.

3) Lee JA, Ramasamy R. Indications for the use of human chorionic gonadotropic hormone for the management of infertility in hypogonadal men. Transl Androl Urol. 2018 Jul;7(Suppl 3):S348-S352. doi: 10.21037/tau.2018.04.11. PMID: 30159241; PMCID: PMC6087849.


5) Zgliczynski S, Ossowski M, Slowinska-Srzednicka J, Brzezinska A, Zgliczynski W, Soszynski P, Chotkowska E, Srzednicki M, Sadowski Z. Effect of testosterone replacement therapy on lipids and lipoproteins in hypogonadal and elderly men. Atherosclerosis. 1996 Mar;121(1):35-43. doi: 10.1016/0021-9150(95)05673-4. PMID: 8678922.

6) Barton M, Prossnitz ER, Meyer MR. Testosterone and secondary hypertension: new pieces to the puzzle. Hypertension. 2012 Jun;59(6):1101-3. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.112.195149. Epub 2012 May 7. PMID: 22566501; PMCID: PMC3647368.


Daniel Louwrens BSc PT

Daniel Louwrens BSc PT | Writer

Daniel Louwrens is a well-rounded fitness professional with over 10 years of experience in bodybuilding and fitness. He holds a BSc in Chemistry from the University of Western Cape and is a certified International Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. He is also a skilled bodybuilder and head coach for Muscle and Brawn. With his knowledge and expertise, he provides personalized training, nutrition, and recovery guidance to help clients reach their fitness goals.

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